James L. Cathey Jr.

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James L. Cathey Jr. (September 18, 1919 – February 29, 1996),[1] was a Democratic politician who served from 1973 to 1977 as the tenth mayor of Bossier City in northwestern Louisiana. An Air Force veteran of World War II, he had achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. He joined the Bossier City Police Department and served as deputy chief and police chief for varying terms. He was highly active in civic organizations, and on various boards.


Cathey was born in Arcadia, the seat of government of Bienville Parish. In 1920, at the age of one year, he moved with his parents to Bossier City, where he grew up and lived much of his life. After attending local segregated schools, he attended Centenary College in Shreveport and Kansas State Teachers College, now Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas.[1]

In 1941, Cathey married the former Dorothy Louise Williams (1924-2006), the daughter of T. E. Williams Sr. and the former Margaret Mullinax of Jefferson, Texas. The couple had three daughters: Sharon (died 2013, she married Bobby Thorn and worked as a school bus driver, teacher, and social worker in Lake Charles and Benton, Louisiana,[2] Karen (she married Fred Green of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Kathe (she married Mr. Newsome of Bossier City, and worked as an I.T. database administrator at Centenary College.[3][4]

Cathey served in both the United States Army and the United States Air Force during and after World War II. He was a bomber pilot during the war and subsequently attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. He was assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City.[1][5]

Cathey and his wife were long active in the First United Methodist Church of Bossier City. He was a past chairman of the church board and the Council on Ministries. He also attended the annual statewide Methodist conference.[1][4]

After the war, in 1949 Cathey joined the Bossier City Police Department and was soon named its first lieutenant. He served as assistant chief and then the police chief from 1953 to 1957 under Mayor Burgess McCranie. He was appointed as police chief again, serving from 1961 to 1970 under Mayor George Nattin. The latter had been police chief from 1958 to 1961.

In 1953, Chief Cathey reported the arrest of two members of the 10th Street Gang of Fort Worth, Texas. Bossier City patrolman Jimmy Walker pursued a car which ran a stop light on East Texas Street. In the vehicle were Joe O'Toole, Dwain Fisher, and a hitchhiker, Reuben L. Bass, then twenty, of Georgia. O'Toole, eighteen years of age, was under a five-year suspended sentence in California for violation of the Dyer Act and the Mann Act. He was also sought in Fort Worth for stealing an automobile. Fisher, seventeen, had spent time at a reform school in Gatesville west of Waco, Texas. Bossier City authorities released Bass after questioning.[6]

Chief Cathey was known for strict enforcement of the blue laws, which then required many businesses to close at midnight Saturday.[7] Cathey was a Bossier Parish deputy sheriff from 1957 to 1961 and 1970 to 1973 under Sheriff Willie Waggonner. He was the first juvenile officer of Bossier Parish.[1]

On April 30, 1968, Cathey's 49th birthday, he was honored with a Bossier City "Appreciation Day". He had been active in many civic organization in his city, beginning with the Junior Chamber International, which in 1953 named him "Young Man of the Year". He was a charter member and past director of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of Disabled American Veterans of Louisiana and a president of the Bossier Parish chapter of the American Red Cross. He was a member and past president of the Bossier City Lions International.

He sat on the advisory board of Bossier Medical Center. He was a member of the Bossier Parish Industrial Development Board. He was a past chairman of the Bossier Parish Council on Aging.

He was a board member for twenty years of the Northwest Louisiana Law Enforcement Commission. In 1966, he served on the advisory committee of the Louisiana State University Law Enforcement Training Program. He was a director of Bossier Parish Crime Stoppers. He chaired various fund drives, including the March of Dimes and the Heart Fund. He was a member of the Masonic lodge and a Shriner.[1]

Mayoral career

In 1973, Cathey decided to enter electoral politics, running as a Democrat for mayor of Bossier City. On June 12, 1973, he narrowly defeated a Republican candidate, Raymond Bun Statham (1924-2004), a retired United States Navy lieutenant.[8][9]

In 1975, The Shreveport Times published a picture by its chief photographer, H. Langston McEachern, showing Mayor Cathey destroying a pinball machine confiscated from the Turf Lounge, one of the nightclubs of The Bossier Strip,[10] known for its Country and western music. The Strip was an entertainment district that flourished in the 20th century prior to the establishment of legal gambling and the construction of casinos along the Red River.[11]

In 1976, Cathey and neighboring Mayor Calhoun Allen of Shreveport hosted U.S. President Gerald R. Ford Jr. in a question-and-answer session for local officials. Ford at the time was in Louisiana campaigning against former Governor Ronald W. Reagan for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination.[12]

Cathey died in Bossier City in 1996 at the age of seventy-six. He is interred alongside his wife at Forest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport.[1][4]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "James L. Cathey Jr.". The Shreveport Times. March 1, 1996. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/85269862. Retrieved January 17, 2015. 
  2. "Sharon Louise Cathey Thorn". The Shreveport Times. April 10, 2013. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/shreveporttimes/obituary.aspx?pid=164150157. Retrieved December 24, 2014. 
  3. "Administrative Staff (Magale Library)". centenary.edu. http://www.centenary.edu/about/staff. Retrieved December 24, 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Dorothy Louise Williams Cathey". The Shreveport Times. May 13, 2006. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/120287080. Retrieved December 26, 2014. 
  5. The Shreveport Times, 13 April 1969
  6. "1953 Capture of Notorious Gang Members". Bossier City Planters' Press (defunct). June 4, 1953. http://www.sfasu.edu/heritagecenter/9587.asp. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  7. "Michael Theodos and Stork Club, Inc., v. Bossier City et al". leagle.com. June 10, 1957. http://www.leagle.com/decision/195792095So2d825_1820. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  8. "Cathey defeats Statham", The Shreveport Times, June 13, 1973, p. 1
  9. "Lt. Raymond Statham". bossier.pastperfect-online.com. http://bossier.pastperfect-online.com/36091cgi/mweb.exe?request=record&id=28203183-1E6D-4B67-BD60-161027461347&type=102. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  10. The Shreveport Times, January 7, 1975
  11. Kip Lornell and Tracey E. W. Laird, eds.. Shreveport Sounds in Black and White. p. 288. ISBN 9781934110416. http://www.upress.state.ms.us/books/1068. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  12. "The Daily Diary of President Gerald R. Ford". fordlibrarymuseum.gov. April 27, 1976. http://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/diary/pdd760427.pdf. Retrieved December 24, 2014. 

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